- Multi-tasking can be dangerous
- Drinking while working in the kitchen might seem like a good idea... but...
- When one is having a week where everything one touches goes wrong - one should reconsider making jam (especially if one has never done it before!)
...with that out of the way, let me tell you about my very first jam making experience.
Around this time last year I was invited to my first "jam swap" party. Having never made jam or even considered "canning" - my first reaction was to think of excuses not to participate. A few days later I changed my mind when my monthly issue of Chatelaine featured an article with delicious looking canning recipes - in particular a chipotle salsa recipe. I decided that I could be domestic and try the whole canning thing AND bring something a little different (and a little spicy) to the jam swap. A friend came over and we spent an evening chopping, cooking and canning "Andrea's spicy chipotle salsa". We had fun, I learned how to make salsa AND how to can it! Success!
When I received my invitation to this year's jam swap (AND a virtual jam swap!) - I knew I wanted to try my hand at actual jam. Since my favorite pick from last year's swap was a cranberry and apple jelly (thank you Miranda!) and Brandon's favorite fruit is raspberry I started looking for apple raspberry jelly. My initial search told me that jelly seems like a lot more work than jam. So I started looking for an apple raspberry jam recipe and found this one on http://www.thepassionatecook.com/.
Although I picked the recipe weeks ago, I procrastinated and put off the actual jam making until this week. What bad planning on my part. Not only was this week one of those weeks when everything I touched seemed to go wrong in some way - but it didn't give me a lot of time for a plan "B".
So on Monday evening, after the girls were tucked in for the night - I opened a bottle of red-wine (another birthday present... a very good one!), assembled all my ingredients, started the dishwasher "sani-rinse" cycle on the jars, set up the laptop on the kitchen table to "tweet" and write my "Dear Meaghan" blog post... and I got started. For some reason I thought it would be a relaxing evening... sipping on my wine, stirring the simmering jam every once in a while, thinking about my baby...
I cut up my apples. I dumped all of the ingredients into a big pot. I waited for the raspberries to start giving off some of their juice before stirring everything together.
Then I sat down at the laptop. I sipped my wine. I checked my e-mail. I started writing about Meaghan.... I lost track of time. I could hear the mixture bubbling, but I wanted to finish one more sentence... and then just one more...
And then... the smell hit. Burning fruit or burning sugar - something was going wrong with my pot of jam! It still looked delicious, but the bottom of the pot was bumpy with burnt "stuff".
When I tasted the jam I couldn't tell if it tasted burnt or if it just smelt that way. I took my chances, changed the contents to another pot and after letting it simmer a little longer, I started the canning process. Then I went to bed.
The next morning we opened one of the jars to try the jam that "Mama" made. The smell that wafted out of the jar very closely resembled the smell of the smokey kitchen from the night before. After tasting it, we all agreed that it wasn't very good... and later that morning I emptied the rest of the jars into the garbage can. What a waste of good fruit. What a waste of time. My first thought - I hate canning. I can just buy jam. Why make it?
I've calmed down a little bit since! In hindsight the canning process was actually a success (all of my jars were sterilized and sealed properly). And I learned a valuable lesson (or two... or three).... the most important being that if a recipe says to stir "constantly" - forget multi-tasking and "focus"!
And so... my contribution to this year's virtual jam swap is a flopped attempt to make what looked like a delicious raspberry apple jam. My contribution to this year's "real" jam swap was chipotle salsa (yeah. I made it again!).
Hope you're having better luck if you're canning this year!